Preparing your pet for New Years Eve fireworks

If your dog panics during storms, it’s likely he or she will also be terrified of fireworks, which can spell trouble on New Year’s Eve. Unlike storms, however, fireworks are usually scheduled and predictable, which means you can prepare your dog in advance.

Why are dogs scared of fireworks?

Not only are they loud, but the noise can trigger a dog’s fight-or-flight response. This can prompt your dog to hide, bark, run away or show other signs of anxiety such as whining and pacing.

Before the fireworks

  • Take your dog out for a long walk earlier in the day
  • Make sure all your pets tags and microchips are up to date in case they run away
  • Feed your dog a good meal to help keep him or her settled.
  • Bring your dog inside before the noise begins so you know they are in a safe space and can’t run away.
  • Play gentle music or background noise (such as TV) for at least an hour prior to the fireworks. This will get them used to the environment before the fireworks.

During the fireworks

  • Keep an eye on them and don’t leave them alone
  • As the noise begins, gradually increase the volume of the music or TV until it has blocked out most of the sound.
  • Becoming angry and punishing them will make the situation worse and will increase your pet’s stress. This is because changing your behaviour or increasing the attention you have given them, tells them there is something unusual about this situation and reinforces their anxiety.

If you know your dog has very bad anxiety around fireworks, make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss other forms of treatment.


How to throw your pet a party (safely)!

It’s the time of year to get together with your family and friends and celebrate the holidays in the summer sun. The same goes for your pets! Arranging a party for your pets can be a world of fun, but there are some things to keep in mind to make sure every person and pet is safe.

The guest list

Make sure to invite dogs that your dog is already familiar with or that you know are calm in social situations. You might invite other dogs that frequent your dog park or dogs of friends and neighbors.

 

Picking the venue

You want to keep it simple with a familiar place for your dog and their friends. This could be a backyard, a dog park, or even some doggie daycare centres will let you hire out the space. If a friend or neighbor offers their yard, make sure you go over to check first that it is very well enclosed and there are no dangers for excited dogs like gardening tools.

 

Invitations

You might decide to do a digital invitation, create a Facebook event or just text your guests, either way you should include in the invitation that all dogs attending should be up to date with their vaccinations, flea and worm treatments and remind them there will be lots of dogs running around so to be cautious if they are bringing children.


Stock the bar

Make sure that you have lots of bowls filled with fresh and clean water. You will need to top them off throughout the day.

Supplying the entertainment

Get your guests to come prepared with dog toys so that the furry friends don’t get up to destructive mischief, like things to throw, chew or even a kiddie pool.

Lastly, the catering

There are many shops and online stores where you can buy pet-friendly foods, cakes and treats. If you are planning on making your own and are scouring the internet for recipes, remember that just because a recipe says it is for dogs, doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe. Here are some common ingredients to avoid:

  • Peanut butter. Lots of recipes online use peanut butter, but some peanut butters contain Xylitol which can be toxic to dogs. Be sure to check the ingredients before using.
  • Any bones whether they are cooked or uncooked.
  • Any milk or dairy products
  • Coconut Oil

Remember to ask your guests if their dogs have any food aversions or allergies!


Tips to get your pets happily through the holidays

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to forget that our pets can also get stressed and feel anxious. Here are some tips to get your pets happily through the holiday season.

Having the family over

A crowded house and unfamiliar guests can cause stress to both cats and dogs. Make sure your pets have a safe, quiet space where they can get away from any guests and loud noises. If your pet is particularly anxious, try to stagger the guest’s arrival so they don’t arrive all at once. It’s also best to have a conversation with any children (and the occasional adult) present about pets needing their own space and not feeding them any scraps.

Sharing the Christmas Leftovers

While it is nice to include our pets in family occasions, be careful not to feed your dog leftovers from Christmas lunch or dinner. Both cooked and uncooked meat can cause canine pancreatitis. Cooked bones are also dangerous, as they are very brittle and can easily get stuck in your dog’s esophagus or stomach. You should also avoid feeding your dog chocolate or Christmas pudding as both have ingredients that are toxic to dogs. If you want to treat your dog, choose a dog-friendly snack.

Decorations and wrapped gifts

Dogs are notorious for ripping open presents well before Christmas day.  This can be not only frustrating for pet owners, but it can also be dangerous to pets, exposing them to substances and food that is harmful to them. If your dog is likely to be attracted to presents under the Christmas tree, you may need to hold off putting them out until Christmas Eve.

Power cords and Christmas lights

A playful dog or cat can chew right through to the wires of electrical cords within minutes. To keep your pets safe around your Christmas lights, keep cords tidy and out of sight. Most hardware stores sell cord tidies to help with this.

Signs that your dog is stressed:

  • Pacing
  • Whining
  • Excessive Licking
  • Tucking their tail between their legs
  • Urinating inside

If you notice these signs in your dog, put them in a quiet and safe space. Avoid giving them any treats as you don’t want to reinforce the behavior.

Signs that your cat is stressed:

  • Hiding
  • Hissing
  • Urinating outside their litter tray
  • Decreased appetite

If you notice these signs in your cat, move them to a safe and quiet space. You may also use calming tools such as Feliway diffusers to keep your cat calm.

If you are worried about your pet’s stress levels this holiday season, make an appointment with one of our veterinary team to discuss treatment options.


So you're taking your dog on a hike?

With the weather heating up and restrictions easing, many families with furry family members are getting back into nature and taking their dogs out with them. This raises the question of how to safely take your dog on a hike.

Plan ahead

Taking your dog on a hike shouldn’t be a spur of the moment decision. There are a few things that need to be prepared in order for your pet to have an enjoyable time while staying safe. Before you decide on a hiking spot, make sure to check whether it is pet friendly.

Assess if your dog is up for it

Not all dogs are made for long walks. Dogs that are too young or old lack the strength and stamina needed to accompany you on a hike. Brachycephalic breeds such as pugs do not cope well in heat or with strenuous exercise and should stick to shorter walks and trails.

Obeying commands

Believe it or not, there are rules and etiquette around bringing your dog on a hike. At the bare minimum, your dog should be able to listen to and obey commands such as sit and come even when they are faced with new and exciting stimuli.

Work up to it

If you have never taken your dog out on a trail before, start small and work your way up to assess whether they have the appropriate stamina and if they are obeying commands or if they need some further training.

What to pack

If you’ve done your research, assessed all the variables and your dog is trained and ready, here is a list of things to take along with you for the hike:

  • Small serving of dry food
  • Water and a collapsible bowl
  • Doggy first aid kit
  • Poop bags
  • Foot care
  • Towel
  • Brush

You should also make sure their ID tag on their collar is up to date in case they get lost on the hike.

If you’re unsure if it’s okay to take your pet for a hike, please consult your local Veterinarian.


Dog-sniffing-plant

Flowers and Plants that are toxic for your pet

It’s spring and there are lots of flowers in bloom. Take some time to familiarise yourself with a few of the flowers and plants that may be toxic to your pet.

There are many flowers and plants that can be toxic to your pets. Below we have listed some of the more common ones, for a more extensive list of plants unsafe for your pets, please visit https://www.rspcavic.org/cats-toxic-plants.

 

Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe Vera

Although Aloe Vera is considered to have some medicinal properties, it can be toxic for pets to ingest. The toxic compounds in aloe are saponins, which are toxic to cats, dogs, birds and lizards.

 

Lilies

The entire Lily plant is extremely toxic to pets, particularly cats, and may only need to have minimal amounts of contact to cause toxicity. Ingesting any part of the plant can cause kidney failure in a relatively small period of time. Owners should make sure their cats never have access to lilies of any kind. While most types of lilies are toxic, the most toxic types of lilies are:

Asiatic lily (including hybrids)
Daylily
Easter lily
Oriental lily
Rubrum lily
Wood lily
Stargazer lily
Tiger lily
Japanese Show lily

 

Hydrangeas

Another common garden flower, hydrangeas contain cyanogenic glycosides and the entire plant and flower is considered toxic. Hydrangeas can also be known as Hortensia, Hills of Snow and Seven Bark.

 

Ivy

Many types of Ivy including Devil’s Ivy and English Ivy post a threat to your pet’s health if ingested. This plant has numerous aliases including Branching Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy and California Ivy.

 

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise is a very common garden flower that’s leaves can cause a toxic reaction if ingested. The leaves contain hydrocyanic acid, which is non-toxic to humans but can be harmful to pets.

 

Signs that your pet has ingested a poisonous plant

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms that may indicate your pet has ingested something harmful:
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Dehydration or excessive thirst
• Incoordination
If you have seen or suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic plant, please contact your veterinarian immediately.


Battle the spring itch

A lot of pets can be prone to skin allergies in the springtime due to spring flowers, warmer weather and the high pollen count.  It may be difficult for your pet to find relief from the constant itch! The first thing you should do for an itchy pet is veto bring them in to see one of our veterinary team, but there are some things around the house you can do to help ease the itch as well.

Change their bedding

By changing and cleaning their bedding regularly, you can make sure that you are getting rid of any irritants that could be making their itch worse.

Finding the right food

You wouldn’t think that food could help your pet’s skin – but it can! Ask our team about specially formulated food to help reduce the springtime itch.

Keep up to date on parasite protection

The last thing an already itchy pet needs is to get fleas! Parasites can increase itchiness and lead to other health complications. With spring being the peak time for parasites, make sure your pet is up to date with their parasite protection.

Regular grooming

Making sure your pet is getting a regular brush and wash. Brushing is especially helpful after a walk or being out in the garden or dog park to remove any little irritants that can cause your pet to scratch.

Now you are armed with some great techniques to battle the spring itch and keep your pet healthy and scratch free.


Dog surrounded by colourful eggs

Brush up on Easter pet dangers

Dog surrounded by colourful eggs
Is your Easter celebration pet safe?

It’s Easter time again, which means there is a greater chance that our furry family members will get themselves into some mischief and eat things that they shouldn’t. Here is a quick refresher on some of the Easter dangers to watch out for.

Chocolate is toxic for both dogs and cats

The increase of chocolate in and around the house increases the risks that your pets may ingest some. Make sure that you pack all chocolate away high up in the cupboard (or the fridge) so that it is out of reaching distance.

If you’re having an Easter egg hunt around the house or in the yard, make sure you know how many eggs you hid so that you can account for them all. If you miss some and leave them hidden, your pet could find and eat them.

Sultanas, grapes and raisins are off limits

The ingestion of sultanas, grapes or raisins can be fatal to your furry family members. Even the smallest amount of these foods may risk serious illness or death in some animals. Make sure to keep your hot cross buns away from your pets!

Decorative grass

You may be planning to gift an Easter hamper, on maybe you’ve been given one that contains the classic Easter decoration – decorative grass. This popular decoration is dangerous to your pets if they eat it. If you receive a hamper with decorative grass, dispose of it immediately in a bin that is out of reach from your pets.

 Sugar free is not okay

Even though sugar-free products may be healthier for humans, they are very toxic for pets. Most sugar-free foods contain a sugar substitute named Xylitol that may cause serious harm to your pet.

Look out for these symptoms:

  • Vomitting
  • Restlessness
  • Increased Urination
  • Stiffness
  • Seizures

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact one of our veterinarians as soon as possible.


Cat inside litter box with lid

Your ultimate guide to the litter box

We’ve put together all the do’s, don’ts, tips and tricks that come with keeping your cat’s litter box clean, and your cat comfortable and happy.

Cat litter tray with Silicone Crystal Pellets
Silicone Crystal Pellets

Pick of the litter

You may have realised in your journey to a perfect litter box that there are many different types of litter to choose from including:

  • Clumping litter – this litter absorbs moisture for quick and easy removal of affected litter but can leave the area around the tray messy with litter.
  • Non-clumping litter – while not as easy to identify and remove soiled litter, it is less likely to leave a trail of litter outside the box
  • Fragranced litter – can help to reduce the litter box odour, however your cat may be sensitive to the smell and this can deter them from using the litter box
  • Recycled paper pellets – highly absorbent and eco-friendly, however these will need to be changed more often than other pellets
  • Silicone crystal pellets – very absorbent and great at keeping in the odour, but can be dangerous if ingested by your cat

The choice of litter at the end of the day will very likely come down to your cat’s own preference and involves a bit of trial and error to begin with.

Think inside the box

When picking the tray itself there are commonly two types – ones with lids and ones without. Covered litter trays are more appealing as they stop spillage and any mess around the tray, the downside is that your cat may not like it. Most cats prefer to use a box without a lid. You can always start out with a covered tray if that’s what you choose, your cat will let you know very quickly if a cover is not the way to go.

Cat litter tray and scooper
Cleaning Cat Litter Tray

To line or not to line?

The purpose of the liner is to protect the tray itself while theoretically making it easier to throw away the litter when you are changing it over. Some things to think about:

  • Cat’s usually dig in the litter before doing their business, which means they could scratch and make holes in the liner
  • If the liner isn’t the right size then urine can build up at the sides of the box.
  • Your cat may not like the presence of the liner itself

Again, this will be a matter of trial and error and what works for you and your cat.

Nailing the set up

The rule is that there should be at least one litter box per cat in each household. So, if you have multiple cat’s, you will need a litter box for each of them, and ideally one extra.

Make sure to choose a spot with some privacy, but not in a place where your cat feels like they are trapped and can’t escape from threats. Avoid high foot traffic, noisy areas and keep it a good distance away from the food and water bowls.  Once you’ve found the spot, keep it there consistently and avoid moving the box to other areas.

If you are using a liner, put the liner down first and make sure it is covering all the edges. When filling it with litter, it is recommended to start with 2 – 3” of litter in the tray. You may find you need more or less depending on the habits of your cat. Generally, cats prefer a deep litter layer.

Two cats in a litter tray
Only one cat per tray

Best cleaning habits

To achieve proper litter box maintenance, you should scoop out any waste on a daily basis. To do this you will need a scoop and gloves. Use the scoop to remove the areas of litter that have been soiled and any solid chunks – this is where clumping litter comes in handy. Dispose of the waste and replace the lost litter with fresh litter. Doing this daily will stop any odours from forming and will encourage your cat to use the tray. If it gets too dirty your cat won’t want to use it and it can cause reluctance to urinate or defecate, neither of which are a good idea in cats.

Once a week you should give the tray a full cleaning. To do this you need to remove all of the litter and wash the tray with soapy warm water and rinse thoroughly. Once dry, fill up the tray again and put it back in it’s proper place.

Troubleshooting the tray

If you find that your cat isn’t using the litter box, there could be a number of reasons and solutions.

  • You need to clean the tray more often
  • The litter box may be too small for your cat
  • The box is not in a spot where your cat feels comfortable or may be too close to their food and water bowls
  • If you use a liner or a cover, try it without one
  • The litter level may be too shallow or deep
  • Your cat may not like the type of litter you choose

Work your way through theses issues one by one to see if your cat starts to use the litter box once you make a change.

There could also be an explanation unrelated to the litter box as to why your cat isn’t using it. If you suspect this is the case, you can bring your cat in to see one of our veterinarians or veterinary nurses for further advice.


Cat in a yellow cat carrier

Preparing your pet for a visit to the vet

Taking your pet to the vet can be stressful for both you and your furry family member. But don’t fret, there are a few things you can do to make the experience as smooth as possible.

Taking your pet to the vet Inforgraphic

Treats

Bring lots of your pet’s favourite treats to reward them and keep them happy.

Toys

Bring along one of your furry family member’s familiar items to help them relax and stay calm.

Carriers

Use a carrier for cats and small dogs (if necessary). Make sure there are a few treats in the carrier for them. You can even spray a towel or blanket in a calming pheromone such as Adaptil (for dogs) or Feliway (for cats) and either drape it over the carrier or put it inside – this will help to promote relaxation.

Food

Try not to feed your pet close to their appointments. This can prevent nausea while travelling and make the treats more appealing.

Bathroom

Give them a chance to relieve themselves before you head off for your appointment

Go for a walk

Take your dog for a walk before your appointment to exhaust some of their energy.

Talk to them

Talking to your pet while in the waiting room can help to soothe them, especially for cat’s in their carriers.

Rewards

When you get home from your appointment, make sure you reward your furry family member with their favourite food, treat or activity.


Dog and woman in pool

Pet Pool Safety

Whether you are relaxing by the pool or lounging on the beach, you might want to bring along your furry family member to join in the fun! To help maximise your fun with your pet while keeping them safe, we’ve got you covered with these tips and tricks.

Dog and woman in poolNot all pets can swim

While some breeds of dog can swim naturally, you may be surprised to learn that other breeds may not be able to swim and are more likely to sink than to float in the water. For breeds like bulldogs or pugs, you should introduce them slowly to the water and monitor where they are the most comfortable. In some cases, they may be comfortable just wading rather than swimming.

Know the water

If you’re at the beach, it is of vital importance to make yourself aware of any rip currents in the area – and stay well away from them! Too much time in a chemically treated pool could be bad for your pet, especially if they drink the water! So make sure to monitor them closely and limited their time in the pool.

Life Jackets

Life Jackets are the safest option if your pet will be in deep water or on a boat. You can get pet-specific life jackets and make sure they are fitted properly and securely.

Shade

Sunburn, dehydration and heatstroke are major risks to our pets. Always know where your closest bit of shade is for you and your furry family member to retreat there when need be.

Clean Drinking Water

While your pet is running around and having fun in the water and the sun, as a pet parent it is your responsibility to make sure they have enough fresh clean water to drink. A source of clean water could be far away so make sure to pack plenty before you go as well as an appropriate dish for them to drink from – there are some great lightweight pet options available.

Bath Time

After some fun times by the water, you should give your pet a bath to remove any dirty material that could cause irritation.

We hope these tips and tricks help you and your pet enjoy a safe and happy time by the water! If anything unfortunate or unexpected happens, seek veterinary advice immediately from us.